John Robertson Architects and Arupcame up with the idea of the De-carbonised City with pedestrianised streets, and a mix of uses including retail, residential and green space. There would be a nomadic workforce less tied to desks and making greater use of the City’s new green spaces.This new approach to work results in more intensively occupied real estate. By 2050 the City will accommodate 50 per cent more workers albeit occupying 25 per cent less space.
A new cultural quarter emerges in Smithfield and the east of the City sees huge development with a masterplan for a new financial centre in Aldgate that extends from the Tower of London to Broadgate.
Woods Bagot, assisted by Brookfield and Hilson Moran suggested that the financial services sector would continue to dominate but the range of other tenant types would broaden as premium technology, media and data analytics businesses increasingly seek space within the City. A range of different workplace configurations would be required to meet the varied workstyles of these different tenant groups, while also reducing their energy and water use and waste production. In addition, ongoing advances in technology will allow people to work productively from anywhere within the City that they choose. As business and leisure converge, organisations will increasingly use their City presence to leverage high-level, face-to-face interaction, driving demand for more destination venues servicing both business and leisure clientele.
Eight years later some of these predictions have already come true - the City’s occupier base has broadened, there is increased development in the east of the Square Mile and there is greater focus on public space, walking and cycling. Gensler’s idea of a visa-free zone sounds very attractive in the context of Brexit. The teams correctly predicted the emergence of the Cultural Mile in the north west quadrant, but in the context of our new familiarity with digital communications their idea that future workers would be operate anywhere in the City seems somewhat tentative.
While extrapolating the present and forecasting the future is an inexact science it is nevertheless productive to set out a variety of visions - something we all need to do in the coming months as we fight to ensure that after the pandemic is over we build back better, rather than returning to normal